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Q & A: Economic forecast
October 20, 2018

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Q: What's leading the U.S. economic momentum now underway?

A: By nearly every economic measure, the U.S. economy continues to gain momentum, building on traction from the historic "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" signed into law last year. Paychecks are growing and workers are reporting higher job satisfaction levels not seen in years. Business and consumer confidence continue to climb as the economic expansion adds jobs and drives investment in business and industry.

The U.S. unemployment rate is riding an 18-year-low and many employers have invested their tax savings to upgrade and expand their businesses, pay employee bonuses and bump up wages for workers. This month the U.S. Labor Department reported unemployment claims dropped to their lowest level in 49 years. Confidence in the economy is buoyed by more take-home pay thanks to the new federal tax cuts.

The economic recovery has boosted the median household income to nearly $61,400. Climbing America's ladder of economic mobility continues to gain traction as the number of U.S. workers working full-time increased by more than three million people over the last year.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also attributes greater earning power to more opportunities for overtime. The tax cuts are boosting profitability and prosperity in America. They are putting more money in people's pocketbooks, driving consumer confidence and fueling consumer spending.

The best yard stick I use to measure the mood of Iowans is through direct dialogue and face to face meetings with constituents.

In September I completed my 38th consecutive year holding county meetings, at least once, in each of Iowa's 99 counties. In addition to visiting civic organizations, schools and town hall settings, many of my meetings take place on the factory floor with workers.

After touring the facility and getting an update on the business, I enjoy an open Q&A format with employees. This is an important way for me to hear concerns, criticisms and priorities weighing on the minds of Iowans, by giving workers who punch a clock the opportunity to participate in representative government. Iowa recently ranked first-in-the-nation as the best state to call home.

I'm proud to represent Iowans and I'm working harder than ever to keep Iowa the best state in the nation to live.

Q: What are Iowans saying about the economy?

A: With 4.2 percent growth in the second quarter, the U.S. economy is experiencing robust growth. A recent state report showed Iowa's growth exceeded six nearby states in the Midwest and an August jobs report ranks Iowa with the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Disposable income is on the rise and more households are able to use their tax savings to save, spend and invest as they see fit. What's more, reports of customer rebates from utilities and cable companies also reflect how the showers of savings from federal tax cuts continue to bloom for American consumers. Don't forget that booming stock markets build up college savings accounts and retirement nest eggs for middle class families. Critics of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" howled at the moon during the debate last year to cut taxes, claiming that it would benefit the rich and leave "crumbs" for working Americans. As President John Kennedy recognized when he advocated across-the-board tax relief, "a rising tide lifts all boats."

Five decades later, the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" greased the wheels of the current economic renaissance. As a champion for my home state and America's farmers, I'm working to make sure a trade war doesn't put the brakes on prosperity for American agriculture.

With harvest season just getting underway, Washington can alleviate some anxiety I hear in farm country. Congress can help provide much-needed certainty for farmers by renewing the farm bill.

The administration needs to reach a better trade agreement with Mexico and Canada and approve year-round sales of E-15 corn-based ethanol at the pump. Most indicators forecast continued sunny skies for the U.S. economy. I'm keeping my eyes wide open by keeping check on the clouds looming on the horizon. A prolonged trade war would be catastrophic to farm exports and the Iowa economy.

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